Napanee-raised artist Kelsey Dawn Pearson will host their first ever ‘hometown’ solo exhibition, running until Feb. 25 at Kingston’s Hoopla Press and Gallery.
Having shown their work in venues across Canada and aboard, this show is unique in that it will give friends and family from their home town a chance to see a full solo exhibit of Pearson’s artwork in person.
“I was part of a community that really encouraged my love of art throughout my education in Napanee,” said Pearson on what it means to exhibit so close to home. “I was lucky to have some great teachers at NDSS who further encouraged that and then I did the Creative Arts Focus Program. There were so many opportunities to explore this creative side.”
The exhibit is titled ‘See, Daddy? I Told You This Was Heaven’ and was inspired by Pearson’s teen years which included yearly camping trips to Bon Echo and Sandbanks and a job at a provincial park.
“This exhibition is touching a lot of aspects of my upbringing and a kind of coming of age and understanding how my body exists in nature and in this world in general,” said Pearson. “It references being from a generation that was raised on TV and these partially animated and partially live action series that we watched growing up and these animatronic theme parks that we’d visit. Using those as references for my base morals and how to operate within the world, how do I look at myself and how do I exist? This work is talking about how inherently the land shapes the people and not the other way around.”
Pearson recalls visiting the abandoned Ottawa theme park known as Storyland as a teen.
‘It was full of animatronic characters from fables that no longer worked,” reads Pearson’s artist statement about the exhibit. ‘My friends and I would get drunk and stoned and eventually run around the park and engage with the sculptures. We used these campy, over abundant puppets and worlds as rehearsal: to learn how to be humans in the way we were taught to do. While some find the alternate realities presented by the inevitable power of the landscapes threatening, there are those who find this freeing. Queer bodies that don’t ‘fit’ with traditional fabulations are prone to body dysmorphia. These bodies may find freedom in being presented with alternate realities, and self-determination in their ability to choose among them. This series has used the aesthetic power of water to manipulate perception, represent a portal, or an explicit choice among realities.’
Pearson hopes the exhibit will inspire others from her hometown to follow their artistic ambitions.
“You don’t need to be from this big city and be from a really art driven community,” said Pearson. “There is support there and there is opportunity there if you’re willing to look for it and really push for it. I would love if it some young people were able to come to the show…It’s colourful and strange and I think there is something for everyone, even if might make a few people uncomfortable. Not in an offensive way but in that it is challenging in some aspects.”
A grand opening reception with a chance to meet the artist will be held this Friday, Feb. 9 from 5-7 p.m. The exhibit will be available to view Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. until Feb. 25.
Hoopla Press & Gallery is located at 120 Princess St. in Kingston.